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Recovery Focused Nutritional Therapy across the Continuum of Care: Learning from COVID-19

Published in Nutrients, September 2021

 OPEN ACCESS  View online here

Take a look at this excellent review on COVID-19 from experts in nutritional support from across the world. These well-known clinicians highlight in their review the important need for information to guide our clinical practice across the journey (from hospital to home) of a patient with COVID-19 and focus on how important it is to also target patient’s recovery, including support for those with long COVID. 

Why is this important?

In patients recovering from COVID-19, malnutrition leading to impaired physical function, affects the ability of individuals to perform activities of daily living and impairs quality of life. We know the long-term consequences of COVID-19 include fatigue and muscle weakness, that can continue even six months after an acute COVID-19 infection.  For those patients with severe COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalisation and intensive care, there will have been even greater physical, functional, psychological and cognitive effects.

What do they recommend?

Designed for clinicians in acute and primary care, the review covers the importance of early, multi-modal nutrition interventions across the continuum of care that are individualised and can improve the outcomes of those with COVID019. 

What is multi-modal nutritional support?

The authors describe multi-modal nutritional therapy as the use of multiple methods by the multi-disciplinary team that are based on the individual needs and goals of a patient that are identified during nutritional assessment. 

This can include:

  • A combination of nutritional interventions, e.g. dietary counselling, food fortification, texture modification, thickened fluids, oral nutritional supplements, enteral tube feeding, or parenteral nutrition, chosen depending on the individual needs of the patient
  • The use of specific individual nutrients, e.g. protein, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, where appropriate (perhaps for muscle-targeted nutritional support) 
  • Nutritional interventions can be combined with other forms of treatment  e.g. physical activity, exercise and/or psychological support, to help patients achieve the outcomes that matter to them. 

The authors recommend that the nutritional support must be started early, targeted to individual patient needs and maintained across the continuum of care from hospital to home.

They conclude that the primary goal of nutritional support in this patient group is ‘to prevent complications and support recovery to enable COVID-19 patients to achieve the best possible nutritional, physical, functional and mental health status’.

Take a read of the full publication to discover more on this important area of nutritional support.